ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -Tron Smith scored 20 points and St. Mary's outscored San Diego State 13-8 over the 4:54 to win 69-64 in the opening game of the John Wooden Classic doubleheader on Saturday.
Patrick Mills added 15 points and Diamon Simpson had 13 points and 16 rebounds for the Gaels (7-0), who are off to their best start since winning a school-record nine in a row to open the 1988-89 season.
San Diego State (8-2) was led by Kelvin Davis with 19 points. The Aztecs, whose three-game winning streak ended, had matched their best start to a season.
Saint Mary's had beaten No. 19 Oregon and Seton Hall this season, and won on the road for the first time Saturday.
The Aztecs led by eight points in the first half, when Saint Mary's shot 33 percent and committed nine of its 16 turnovers.
But the Gaels came out strongly to start the second half, running off 11 straight points for a 37-34 lead. Mills hit consecutive 3-pointers and Smith scored five in a row. He finished 10-of-14 from the line.
Davis helped San Diego State regain a 44-41 lead with eight consecutive points, including back-to-back 3-pointers.
From there, it was a back-and-forth game. Davis tied the game for the last time at 56 with 5:40 remaining.
Mills launched the Gaels' final scoring run with a 3-pointer, then Smith stole the ball and laid it in one-handed and scored another layin over a San Diego State defender for a 63-60 lead.
The Aztecs hurt their chances by missing five free throws down the stretch.
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